EHR adoption may not yield gain in revenues

March 18, 2013

Health care providers may not see a positive return on investment (ROI) after adopting electronic health record (EHR) systems, suggests a study that examined how physicians would fare financially after incorporating EHRs into their practices.

Health care providers may not see a positive return on investment (ROI) after adopting electronic health record (EHR) systems, suggests a study that examined how physicians would fare financially after incorporating EHRs into their practices.

Researchers analyzed survey data from 49 community practices in Massachusetts to project 5-year ROIs after implementation of EHR systems. They found that only 27% of practices would realize a positive ROI; the average physician would see a loss of $43,743. An additional 14% of practices would be ahead if they received the $44,000 federal meaningful-use incentive.

Those practices with positive ROIs used their EHRs to increase revenue by scheduling more office visits and seeing more patients, emphasizing accurate coding to reduce the number of rejected claims, and improving billing procedures. Nearly half the practices did not see savings because they continued to use paper-based medical records.

Current meaningful-use incentives appear to favor larger practices, and incentives alone may not guarantee smaller practices a positive ROI after EHR implementation. Researchers say that these smaller practices need to focus on additional changes that will help them improve their bottom lines.